16 Dec 2016
Taranaki travel to Wanganui on Sunday to challenge for the Christie Cup, which is the symbol of provincial tennis supremacy in the lower North Island.
The Christie Cup has been played for continuously since 1926 except for the period of the Second World War. It is played for on a challenge basis, similar to rugby's Ranfurly Shield.
Taranaki last held the Cup in 2012 and Wanganui have held it since then including a 12-all draw against Taranaki last year. As with the Ranfurly Shield, the holders claim the Christie Cup in the case of a tie.
The Taranaki team contains a mix of experience and exceptional young talent. Caleb Fleming, Louise Waite and Jayden Harrison are all ranked near the top of their age group in New Zealand. Unfortunately, Ajeet Rai is a late withdrawal from the team, after having got to the semi-finals of the NZ Tennis Championships doubles this week and winning the NZ U18 singles title previously. He has picked up a slight injury in the process.
A recent innovation is the use of players that can be brought in to play the doubles and combines events and Taranaki will possibly make use of two experienced players in Mike Fleming and Mike Roberts.
Wanganui's strength is in their ladies line-up which includes players from the USA University system and players on the professional ITF circuit. Taranaki's best chance of claiming the Christie Cup will be their depth of talent in the men's line-up carrying through to victory in the doubles and winning the majority of the combines events.
Taranaki B and Wanganui B will also square off to play for the Cleland Cup which is currently held by Taranaki.
Mens A (in Playing order)
Doubles specialists: Mike Fleming, Mike Roberts
Alexandra SpurdleAnna Hutterd